When I think of Thanksgiving, the one word that comes to mind is gratitude. There is incredible power in the words, “thank you.” It is perhaps the simplest form of recognition and praise, and is something every person needs.
Research from the Gallup organization reveals only four out of ten people say they “strongly agree” with this statement, “In the last month, I have received recognition or praise from someone in my church.” How tragic! Of all places, the church should be the one place where you feel appreciated and valued. And, according to Scripture, gratitude is one of the core values of people who follow Christ. (Colossians 3:17)
We all want to feel appreciated and valued! In fact, every human being is wired for attention! We need feedback and response from others. No one likes to be ignored! A simple, sincere “thank you” is all it takes to bring a ray of sunshine into someone’s life, create a sense of self-worth and value. Expressing genuine appreciation and gratitude doesn’t cost a thing, but its value and benefits are enormous. This is especially true for churches and faith communities.
Perhaps, we need to ask ourselves these questions: During the course of an average week, how many of us are made to feel appreciated in our work, our families or our church? Most importantly, what are we doing each week to help others in our work place, our family, and our church, feel appreciated? What about our thanksgiving toward God and others? What are we doing on a daily basis to express appreciation and gratitude? How can do it better?
Giving thanks and expressing appreciation and gratitude also have other benefits. These expressions have a reciprocal impact on the person expressing the gratitude. A story in the life of Jesus illustrates this truth. In Luke 17, Jesus healed ten lepers. He tells them to go and show themselves to the priests in the Temple according to the customs of that day. As they were on their way to the Temple, they were healed. Only one of the ten returned to thank Jesus. Jesus then spoke to the one who returned, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” Although all ten were cleansed, only one was “made whole.” Wholeness is more than being set free from something. It is being transformed to the core, “made whole” in the totality of life.
Lives without thankfulness may be cleansed, set free from the shackles of sin, but until our heart returns to God in praise and thanksgiving, we will never be completely whole! And, I would add, until we cultivate a culture of gratitude in our churches we will never be all that God designed us to be as His Church, the Body and Bride of Christ!